“You Get Old When You Stop Riding”
By: Greema Michael
Before lockdown, I went for a long 671 km ride via East Coast Rd and NH32 on my new bike Avenger 220 cc. Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry – Chidambaram – Nagore – Nagapattinam – Velankanni- Rameshwaram –Kanyakumari .
Whenever I read or listen about long motor rides I have always wondered, why do they want to ride their bikes? They could have travelled in a car. Personally, I prefer a safe and comfortable journey, so I didn’t get the logic behind their craze over motor rides. Why should somebody ride a huge bike? Is that a kind of showoff? why do they modify the handlebars, some even remove the damn headlight to make it look like a stunt bike and then these morons try stunting on them on crowded roads. Like any other girl, I thought they are doing this to impress somebody. When they add a custom seat, new skid-plate, radiator guard, tail rack, windshield, I thought they are trying to make big impression. But my prejudices about them disappeared in a sway, when I myself put me in their shoes.
That was a ride to explore the historic road of the Pallava Dynasty. ECR is a multi-lane road from Chennai to Kanyakumari. This road runs through the prominent tourist places in Tamil Nadu. One side of the road is the Bay of Bengal and another side some stunning landscapes, wide farmlands, historic structures, temples, and museums.
My first stop was at Mahabalipuram. I have been here more than 4 to 5 times, my maiden visit was with my college classmates during our fresher’s trip. But this time the solo bike ride has given me a really different experience. Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass: it’s really about learning how to ride a motorbike. Here you are on your own. You are not protected by two tons of steel, rubber, foam padding, and safety glass. Neither are you steering two tons of guided missiles toward other cars, people, and property.
If you are prepared to accept the responsibility of your own actions, then motorcycling can be both safe and thrilling. Riding is an art as well as a craft and no amount of explanation can take the place of experience. There you may forget the past that always made you to overthink or the people in your life who unnecessarily made your life worse, your family responsibilities, broken heart, unending career struggle, PCOS, ovulation problems, infertility..the list goes on.
After a 2 hours ride from there, I reached to my beloved city Pondicherry. I would say this is the most beautiful city in India. I lived in this place for almost 4 years during my Ph.D. time. During those days I thought I will never ever leave this town. But life has taken some major shifts and now here I am as a tourist. The erstwhile French colony with its old-world charm attracts many travellers. You can also find your inner spiritual circle in Auroville and the food in Pondy is heavenly.
When you ride again south you will pass one another small town called Cuddalore. This was one of the major towns of Pallavas, Pennayar River runs north of the town. If you are passing by this town try to visit Silver Beach and the relics of Fort St. David. My next stop was Karaikal this town is famous for its food and temples. Their chicken Dosa is a delectable treat.
From there next place was Nagore which is located around 17 km south of Karikal, Google has taken me to some very remote villages of Nagore so I couldn’t visit Nagore Dargah, one of the popular attractions of the place.
The next station was Nagapattinam, this town came to prominence during the Chola period and served one of their important port for trade and commerce. This town is a base for pilgrims who visit Velankanni, Sikkal temple,ancient port city KaveriPoompattinam andKodaikarai Wildlife Sanctuary
As you go further towards Kanyakumari, you would pass Rameshwaram. I spent a little time there to pay homage to the great leader and motivation Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam at his memorial, later I visited the Rameshwaram temple, ride on the legendary Pamban Bridge to reach Danushkodi was unforgettable. Danushkodi is a small secluded “Ghost Town”.
Finally the third day I reached Kanyakumari where the Bay of Bengal meets the Arabian sea and Indian ocean. I travelled in March so it was quite hot in Kanyakumari. From Nagarcoil within a 20 km ride, you can reach here, I was quite interested in exploring the famous VivekandaRock Memorial but unfortunately, that day tides were rough and ferry services weren’t available. With my phone camera, I took so many panoramic images of the majestic Indian ocean.
This trip was full of delightful memories; I have shared only the best ones. This trip will be the most memorable one in my life, solo ride on a bike has taught me a lot. Four wheels of your car will move the body but two wheels are able to move the soul. I know it’s a common notion for girls to like guys who are tough, the one who rides a motorcycle. What if we couldn’t find somebody? Even I wished to date somebody who rides motorbikes, who write poems, who speak literature, who is creative, academic, and intelligent. But seriously I couldn’t find anyone like that.
For the men in my life I was crazy, lunatic, unbalanced, unstable, disturbed, distracted or somebody who can’t follow our age-old conservative traditional norms and values. But I needed a hero, so that what I have decided to become. I have learned, the greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you can’t do. Don’t let the fear of what could happen to make nothing happen. Because you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. The best memories begin with the most insane ideas.
PS: I sincerely thanks to other commuters who patiently pardoned me when I made a pretty huge traffic block at Karaikal town, NH-32, and Cuddalore suburb. There I really got confused while switching gears.